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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

Kaz braced the man’s forearm against the metal. He threw his weight against his opponent’s body, and felt a satisfying pop as the Kaelish’s arm dislocated from his shoulder. As the man opened his lips to scream, Kaz covered his mouth with one hand and pinched his nose shut with the other. The feel of bare flesh on his fingers made him want to gag.

“Shhhhhh,” he said, using his grip on the man’s nose to steer him backward to the bench against the wall. The other prisoners scattered to clear a path.

The man sat down hard, eyes watering, breathless. Kaz kept his hold on his nose and mouth. The Kaelish trembled beneath his grasp.

“You want me to put it back?” Kaz asked.

The Kaelish whimpered.

“Do you?”

He whimpered louder as the prisoners looked on.

“You scream, and I’ll make sure it never works right again, understand?”

He released the man’s mouth and shoved his arm back into its socket. The Kaelish rolled over on his side, curled up on the bench, and began to weep.

Kaz wiped his hands on his trousers and returned to his spot by the bars. He could feel the others watching, but now he knew he would be left in peace.

Helvar came up beside him. “Was that really necessary?”

“No.” But it had been—to make sure they were left alone to do what needed to be done, and to remember that he wasn’t helpless.

 

 

 

23

 

JESPER

 

Jesper wanted to pace, but he’d staked out this spot on the bench, and he intended to keep it. It felt like little quakes of anxiety and excitement were vibrating under his skin, and Wylan seated next to him drumming frenetically on his kneecaps wasn’t helping him settle. He didn’t think he could handle much more waiting. First the boat, then all that hiking, and now he was stuck in a cell until the guards came by to make their evening head count.

Only his father had understood his restless energy. He’d tried to get Jesper to use it up on the farm, but the work had been too monotonous. University was supposed to be the thing that gave him direction, but instead he’d wandered down a different path. He cringed at what his father would say if he learned his son had died in a Fjerdan prison. But how would he ever know? That was too depressing to dwell on.

How much time had passed? What if they couldn’t even hear the Elderclock in here? The guards were supposed to make the head count at six bells. Then Jesper and the others would have until midnight to get the job done. They hoped. Matthias had only spent three months at the prison. Protocols could have changed. He might have gotten something wrong. Or maybe the Fjerdan just wants us behind bars before he rats us out.

But Matthias was sitting silent on the far side of the cell near Kaz. Jesper hadn’t been able to miss Kaz’s little skirmish with the Kaelish. Kaz was usually unshakable during a job, but now he was on edge, and Jesper didn’t know why. Part of him wanted to ask, but he knew that was the stupid part, the hopeful farm boy who picked the worst possible person to care about, who searched for signs in things that he knew deep down meant nothing—when Kaz chose him for a job, when Kaz played along with one of his jokes. He could have kicked himself. He’d finally seen the infamous Kaz Brekker without a stitch of clothing, and he’d been too worried about ending up on a pike to pay proper attention.